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Written by Ian Flanegan - email
To celebrate the accomplishments of parents and caregivers who have been reunited with their children, the American Bar Association declared June 18 as National Family Reunification Day.
Last year 235 children in Mecklenburg County were reunified with their families after a time apart due to allegations of abuse, neglect or dependency.
A celebration of those involved in the reunification ensued in Tuckaseegee park. Food, games and music created a festival-like atmosphere.
Many of the children at Saturday's picnic had been separated from their parents after allegations of neglect or abuse.
The adults had to go through parenting courses, working with attorneys and judges to get their kids back.
Dionne Cooks had to work with the court plan to be reunited with her 9 year old son. She says she benefited from taking the parenting courses.
"I used to be a yeller, a screamer, and a hitter, and now I'm learning," she says.
Saturday's picnic is the first of it's kind, say organizers, who plan to make it an annual event. They say today's picnic is an effort to celebrate everyone who has participated in the hard work involved in the reunification of families, including attorneys, judges and social workers.
"It goes unrecognized, it goes unnoticed" says organizer Courtney Clark. "Every day the social workers in the community are doing a great job, and we just wanted to celebrate everyone involved."